Well, James and I wore ourselves out planting an arrowwood viburnum in the backyard, which involved digging a hole, which involved buying a mattock. Despite my love for wombats, it’s obvious that digging is not among my great skills. Fortunately, I have James.

I also bought gloves. Good, solid gardening gloves. And wore them.

Centipede bite doesn’t exactly hurt, but when I close my hand on something–the handle of a mattock, say–there is a brief electric jangle of nerve endings, like a small, unpleasant shock. It’s not painful, but I don’t like it.

However, on the beneficial insect front, I am pleased–I’ve discovered that the small brown mantises I keep spotting are likely Carolina mantises, a native species that I am pleased to have on board. (I’d be reasonably happy with any mantis, really, but having a native makes me extra happy.)

Proving yet again that the South is weirder’n’hell, the colloquialism for these little insects is “rearhorse” or “mulekiller.” Rearhorse I can just barely see–it’s…kinda…rearing up…sort of…but mulekiller is givin’ these guys way too much credit. The biggest one I’ve seen was maybe an inch and a half long. One suspects there is some obscure story there, something convoluted and involving mules on the edges of cliffs or a demented mantis version of “Charlotte’s Web” (“Charlotte’s Egg-Sac”? “Charlottte’s Prayer”?) but I suppose it’s lost to the mists of antiquity, if it ever existed at all.

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